My husband beats me, but so what?
Posted Saturday, March 2 2013 at 00:00
“My mother never left her home for being beaten by her husband, there is no reason why I should leave. Besides, every man beats up his wife…” Dear Jeanne tells the story of one woman that may shed some light on the women comprising the six of 10 women in this country who still say they are fine with wife beating, a loophole in the fight against the vice.
For two days, I could not locate Aidah Nakacwa, my neighbour who also occasionally helps around my home with household chores. She was not at her home and her phone was switched off. Then one Friday as I visited a sick bedridden friend at Kamokya Clinic, there was Nakacwa in a nearby hospital bed, her face bruised and left leg bandaged, injuries she explained away as a result of a boda boda accident.
When I move closer though, she, in Luganda, the only language she speaks, whispers to me that it was Taata Ibra, her husband, who had beaten her up for inquiring about where he was coming from late in the night. “That boda boda story is what I told the doctors here though. He told me to go back to Masaka and give way to other women who can contend with his ways,” she explained, in evident pain.
Nakacwa, 23, resides in Kisaasi with a boda boda cyclist she has lived with for four years and born two children with. Even from her hospital bed, she explains how she adores her husband though he occasionally beats her to the hospital bed. To the best of my memory, it was the fourth time she had been beaten by the husband in the four months I have known her and it did not look to be the last either.
“I love my man and he thinks by beating me I will leave him so he can marry another woman but I will not leave him. After all, where do I have to go if I leave my home?” she says, something I imagine she uses to justify her staying in the abusive relationship.
My mother survived through it, so should I
To Nakacwa, reporting the matter to police would not help anything since it would not provide food on the table or change his husband’s unruly character; just maybe get him behind bars leaving her with the burden of looking after their children. From her perspective, it would really only worsen matters.
Having been brought up in a traditional family where her mother and step mother were victims of domestic violence, but never used it as an excuse to leave their homes, Nakacwa does not seem to identify with the seriousness of the abuse. “My mothers were beaten but it never even became a public affair. Reporting the matter would only expose a failure on my part to resolve my marital issues. Besides, there are no men that do not beat their women,” she says, thinking out loud how she should instead be thinking of a different way to handle her man.
When I learnt my lesson
Nakacwa’s beatings started about a year after she had moved in with Taata Ibra, after he found out she was doing the neigbhours’ laundry to earn some money, yet he had refused her to work.
At the time, she had left him and headed back to the village, believing he would come begging to be forgiven and taken back home. But he had not. Two weeks down the road without much as a word from the man, and Nakacwa was on her way back to Kampala, where a nasty surprise, that she prefers to remember as a life lesson, awaited her. There was another woman in the house, who she had had to fight out of her home.
“Then I thought I could not take being beaten up like a cow, but I learnt my lesson and can never make the same mistake of leaving my home again,” she sums up why she takes the abuse.